Timaru is a major port in the southern Canterbury region of New Zealand, located 160 kilometres southwest of Christchurch and about 200 kilometres northeast of Dunedin on the eastern Pacific coast of the South Island. The Timaru District, a territorial authority of 42,867 people (2006 census) in and around the former Timaru City (27,200), includes a prosperous agricultural hinterland with links to smaller rural communities such as Pleasant Point (1,170), Temuka (4,044), and Geraldine (2,244). The town of Waimate is about 40 kilometres to the south just off the main highway to Oamaru and Dunedin. The Timaru urban area is the second largest city in the Canterbury Region, after Christchurch.
Caroline Bay beach is a popular recreational area located close to Timaru's town centre, just to the north of the substantial port facilities. Beyond Caroline Bay, the industrial suburb of Washdyke is at a major junction with State Highway 8, the main route into the Mackenzie Country. This provides a road link to Fairlie, Twizel, Lake Tekapo, Aoraki/Mount Cook and Queenstown.
Timaru has been constructed on rolling hills created from the lava flows of the extinct Mt Horrible volcano, which last erupted many thousands of years ago. The result is that most of the main streets are undulating, a clear contrast with the flat landscape of the Canterbury Plains to the north. This volcanic rock is used for the construction of local "blue stone" buildings